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Purchases expected to arrive soon

HARTINGTON — COVID related supply chain shortages have caused some problems at Hartington-Newcastle Public School, but school administrators are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hartington-Newcastle School Board members learned Monday new playground equipment, which was ordered last spring and was originally supposed to be installed before the start of the new school year, should finally be here late this week.

Supt. A.J. Johnson also said he got confirmation that a new bus the school ordered quite some time ago has now been completed and is ready to be shipped. He has "no idea as to when that might arrive, though."

The school has been using a 2004 bus, which Johnson said needs to be retired and taken off of the road soon.

Since vehicles are so difficult to get these days, the School Board approved the purchase of a 2022 Chevrolet Trail blazer for $25,500 from Pearson Motor Company. It will replace a 21-year-old Chevy Impala the school owns.

"The vehicle is in stock and on the lot," Johnson said. "These days it’s basically get what ever you can get." Supply chain shortages

Supply chain shortages are also having an affect on the school lunch program as the menus have had to be altered on occassion because the school was unable to get a particular item, Johnson said.

School Board members also got an update Monday on the status of a technology grant for new school laptops that Technology Coordinator Cody Stappert has been working on.

Stappert said the vendor the school is working with has had some schools already receive the federal funds for new computers. He is optimistic the grant and funds for Hartington-Newcastle's new laptops will be approved soon.

As the end of the first quarter nears, Johnson said school has gone well so far.

"We’ve had some bumps in the road and will probably have a few more before this is over, but things are going pretty smoothly," he said.

High school students were required to wear masks for two weeks earlier this school year because of a COVID outbreak, but that shouldn't happen again this year.

"The health department is using a more targeted approach with COVID now," he said. Instead of forcing the entire school to wear masks, or quarantine when an outbreak occurs, a particular segment of the school must now wear masks if an outbreak is discovered.

Currently, Johson said, the eighth graders must wear masks at school for a few days in order to keep the virus from spreading.

Most COVID mandates have been lifted, and staff and students are able to have a pretty normal school year, Johnson told School Board members.

For example, field trips have returned, Johnson said. The fourth grade class is going to Lincoln for a field trip this week, he said.

The Kindergarten and first grade classes were also able to go to the Fire Hall as part of Fire Safety Week. Last year's Kindergarten class was not able to visit the Fire Hall, so those students went this year as first graders.

"We are able to do some things that we weren’t able to do last year," he said.

The Board also approved an agreement with the LCC school, which allows HNS to send a student to the Level III Special Education facility in Coleridge, which is operated by LCC.

The next HNS School Board meeting is set for Nov. 8, at 5:30 p.m.

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